Tucked inside Mowlem estate in Ogopa, overlooking Komorock in Nairobi, is The Light Centre Ministries, a Christian ministry that looks like seven others in the vicinity.
The similarities, however, end there. The message preached inside The Light Centre would shock many Christians: the church implicitly urges them to embrace polygamy.
The founder and director of Light Centre, Apostle Francis Morisi, says his church’s message is based on the Bible.
Talking to Saturday Nation recently, Mr Morisi said he received a message from God to pass on the polygamy message to the world.
“If our lives are to be what God wants them to be, we must be open to His will, whatever it may be. A church is one big family where every woman needs a man and a man is naturally polygamous,” he says.
Mr Morisi holds a diploma in theology from the Voice of Prophesy Bible School, a Seventh Day Adventist college.
He says he got saved in 1993 and served in three ministries before God gave him the polygamy message three years ago.
“I was already married when God sent me another woman to love. I asked God why He did that and He told me not to ask. He (God) gave me an example of Hosea who He ordered to marry a harlot. Hosea complied and bore children with her,” explains the husband of Lorna and the late Margaret Morisi.
“I started preaching the message that God had bestowed on me. I will not tire because I am doing the will of God. Every woman has to be married as God intended,” says the preacher.
The church has two other branches, in Lunga Lunga and Mugumu in North Tanzania. It has over 400 members.
Mr Morisi has written a book, Love is Supreme in a little Heaven on Earth, which warns men to stop being hypocritical by staying in monogamous marriages while they kept mistresses and girlfriends on the side.
The book encourages men to marry more wives to bridge the gap that has given rise to many single women.
Mr Osborn Nyanaro, an elder in the ministry, says only polygamy can reduce immorality in society.
“This church recognises celibacy, and monogamous and polygamous marriages. We have polygamous men in our ministry and more are still coming in,” said Mr Nyanaro, a polygamist himself.
Pastor Duncan Otieno of Great Commission Ministries in Kayole agrees with Apostle Morisi about the Bible not expressly prohibiting polygamy, but notes that the same Bible does not allow church leaders to practice it.
“Any member of the church can marry more than one wife but church leaders cannot enjoy that provision. They are called upon to serve the Lord with dedication. That is where I disagree with Apostle Morisi,” says Pastor Otieno, a former church leader at South B Tabernacle.
However, Rev Paul Wangondu of the Light Centre’s Sinai branch in Lunga Lunga says the Bible only prohibits bishops and church overseers from marrying more than one wife, but not pastors and reverends.
The Rev Wangondu, who is married to two wives, says the Bible encourages polygamy and points to great men who communicated with God, including Abraham, David, Jacob and Solomon, among others, who were polygamous.
“It is very clear that polygamy is allowed in the Old Testament. It is just that some churches with roots in the West have condemn it,” says Rev Wangondu.
Born in a Catholic family before he moved to Tabernacle Ministries in South B in the 1980s, Mr Morisi wonders about the plight of the many single women and widows.
“You see even the women who are in the streets are not necessarily looking for money. There are many of them who are looking for love and companionship,” Mr Morisi says.
“God showed me how the church has lost touch with society, with regard to marriage, family and love. For this cause, He called me and commissioned me to go and proclaim this to His people. Let he who has ears hear what the spirit is saying to the church,” he adds. “Marry as many as you want,” he encourages.